American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery Meeting

American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery Meeting

April 25, 2014
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Early critique of projects can help determine viability, increase potential for success

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BOSTON — Being critical of a project or venture early in the innovation cycle is crucial to determining its success, according to a panel here.

“Having an incubator team is really great,” K. Angela Macfarlane, president and CEO of ForSight Labs, said during a panel discussion concerning the innovation cycle at the Ophthalmology Innovation Summit. “Someone arguing for a project one day, against it the next. It forces you to look candidly at a project’s merits and how they measure up in clinic, against the competition, in the current marketplace. Take on a philosophy of ‘respectful candor’ with investors and board members. Find investors you trust and a board you can be candid with.”

“And passion,” she added. “Have lots of passion. If you’re not in love with a project, it’s more likely to fail.”

“Be mindful of the transition between being an internally focused, clinically based company to an externally focused, commercially based company,” Thomas Frinzi, president and CEO of WaveTec Vision, said. “That’s a big step, and a lot of smaller entities have trouble with it.”

Frinzi also noted the importance of considering external perspectives when thinking about partnering. “You need to fit them as much as they need to fit you. Think about how your project fits with their interests,” he said.

“Don’t turn a blind eye to the competition, either, at any stage of the process,” James Mazzo, operating partner for Versant Ventures, said. “You may be left behind, and besides, competition is good. It makes you better, it makes them better, it makes everyone better. All ships rise with the tide.”

“Trust in the scientific method to tell you what is encouraging evidence and what is conclusive evidence,” Sabri Markabi, MD, chief medical officer and senior vice president of research and development at Alcon, said. “It has been guiding us in the medical fields for 50 to 60 years. It works.”

Disclosures: Frinzi is president and CEO of WaveTec Vision. Macfarlane is president and CEO of ForSight Labs. Markabi is chief medical officer and senior vice president of research and development at Alcon. Mazzo is operating partner for Versant Ventures.